The state of Maine just reported that it is investigating its first confirmed case of measles in 20 years. Measles, of course, is a preventable disease that can cause pneumonia and death. The vaccine for it is falsely believed by many to cause autism.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) said the Measles case, discovered in Franklin County, was related to travel. It is the state’s first case since 1997.
The Maine CDC also asked anyone who may have been exposed to “review their vaccine history and monitor for symptoms.”
Individuals with symptoms should contact their providers for instructions before arriving at the providers’ offices or hospitals. If symptoms are consistent with the disease, testing may be performed to determine whether the individual is infected. Individuals without symptoms should not be tested.
The best protection against measles is vaccination. MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine provides long-lasting protection against all strains of measles.
The Maine CDC gave additional information on how children and adults can use the MMR vaccine to stay protected from the measles.
All children should receive two doses of MMR. The first dose should be given at 12 through 15 months of age and the second at 4 through 6 years of age… Every effort should be made to identify and vaccinate children who are not up-to date… All adults should have acceptable proof of immunity to measles which is defined as written documentation of adequate vaccination, laboratory evidence of immunity, birth before 1957, or laboratory confirmation of disease.
You may recognize the name of the MMR vaccine because it’s been bombarded by false claims from a number of people, including Jenny McCarthy, in recent years. It is the vaccine that many people suggest causes autism, but that finding was actually based on a flawed (and retracted) study by (no longer Dr.) Andrew Wakefield.
We don’t know if the person in this particular case was against vaccines or not (the government hasn’t released identifying information about the individual), but we do know that if he or she had received the MMR vaccine, we would almost certainly have avoided this situation. And the main reason people skip this specific medical procedure is that they buy into the autism hype.
Thankfully, it seems like government officials in Maine are responding quickly and properly in this case. Epidemiologist Dr. Siiri Bennett said they are trying to get ahead of a potential outbreak.
The Maine CDC is working with clinicians to identify potentially exposed individuals and make appropriate recommendations to prevent transmission.
The bottom line here is that we can’t let fear prevent us from protecting ourselves and our families from deadly diseases, like this one. There are no “religious exemptions” to illness and death, so get your loved ones vaccinated. We don’t want to return to the days when diseases like this were rampant.
(Image via Shutterstock)